still on hold

In ALL, LIFE OBSERVATIONS by Stephanie Klein44 Comments

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September 29
September 29

I despise automated response systems.  “I hate you; die” should be an option.  When I do actually get a person on the line, they have me re-verify my life to them.  Date of birth.  "Dude, I just gave it to the system!  Why ask me three times for it?"  And I’m always, "MA’AM."  I wonder if you really cussed someone out what would happen.  I’d never do such a thing, as I’m aware it’s never their fault.  Okay, never isn’t quite right  I wonder if you get reported or if they say, "Ma’am, I really don’t appreciate your tone," sounding like Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl when told she has a bony ass.  Damn, if someone said that to me, I’d touch mine and respond with a "Ya think?"  Then, I’d smile and order a milkshake.   

I’m not sure there’s anything worse than medical claim forms and dealing with insurance operators.  Yes, it does get worse.  Sorry, but insurance operators with accents are worse.  Foreign accents, where I don’t understand every other word.  The Duane Reade prescription counter is a close second.  I’ve been on hold for 38 minutes!  You can cook Rachel Ray in that time.


  1. What I really, really, really hate is when you have to type in an identification code/membership code, etc. Then when you get to a live person, they ask you for the same code. Either your system picks up and retains the code, or don't ask me to supply it.

  2. "What did happen exactly?"
    "The earth moved. The angels wept. The polaroids are….uh….are in my other coat."

    I told a customer disservice rep on the phone at Bank of America that she could stick her "That's not in my job description, ma'am" up her ass. She told me that, per her job description, she didn't have to listen to me "cuss." The next day I switched to Commerce.

  3. I politely asked the last person I spoke to in India NOT to call me Ma'am. They may think it's polite, but I don't feel it is. I feel like they're saying "f* you" to me.

    Yes ma'am of course I can do that. Yeah right.

  4. I usually have to have these guys spell every word for me. Then I still have to spend an hour trying to figure out the real word from the way I thought they spelled it. Cause just asking them to speak more clearly never does it.

    But this has been the story of my life since I moved to the UK. I've been with 'the other' for seven years now and I still have to have him slow down and re pronounce and spell words because sometimes that accent just doesn't jive.

    And we never talk about insurance. Cause I'd bite him.

  5. Brian – HAHA – LOVE that part of the ad!

    I hate when i call 411 from my cell for a phone number – and it asks me – city and state and then the listing – it NEVER just sends me to the listing – i always have to get the live operator – it just pisses me off – that extra step. Just give me the operator dammit!

  6. If you pound '0' enough times, or '*0', you will get transfered to a live person. I used to work in customer service and actually had to transfer many, many elderly people (who just didn't understand how to work the phone systems at insurance companies) to live people. It feels like old hat to me now. But it is the most annoying thing in the world when you're not used to it.

    It's interesting that you made the comment about service reps with accents and how you don't like them. I work for a large company who has been involved in outsourcing their phone reps for several years now, depending on whether or not that specific client will go for it. It's amazing but true: it's actually cheaper to route calls out to India than keep'em in-house. Well, okay, maybe it's not the routing of the calls, but more so the cheaper labor that compensates for it. It's the way the world is going. The sooner people accept it, the more prepared the US economy will be. But I still agree with you…it's not helping anyone when you can only understand every other word from the person who is supposed to be helping you!

  7. Document EVERYTHING said over and over and send it to them via email, fax, mail. Put their "process" on steroids and MAKE them have to respond to you over and over and over again. It works. You'll finally get a "manager" who will play good cop to the poor powerless bad cop that you usually get.

  8. I worked at a call centre once for six weeks, and in that time, as part of training a class of 30-40 of us listened in on a call that was in progress.

    Sometimes when you are on hold, or in a que people are able to hear you.

    Just let 'er rip.

  9. Dear Stephanie:
    I hear you about the nasty insurance operators. For some reason, though, in my home town the pharmacists at Longs Drug are the nastiest. They are – sorry here – all Korean and they YELL accross the store to come pick up your birthcontrol/spermicide/yeast infection stuff, etc, then they YELL at you about what's not covered by insurance!! UGGGGHHHHH

  10. I don't know which is more annoying: being on hold for 38 minutes or watching Rachel Ray. I may have to say Rachel Ray and her E.V.O.O.

  11. I am so over Duane Reade. Is it me, or does every person who works there have an attitude problem? Not to mention that they never seem to have what I need.

    Olivia–I hate Bank of America. I loved Fleet, but since the merger I have been beyond dissatisfied.

  12. Hiya Steph!

    Hope you're doing well. I can totally relate to you on this post. I hate automated ANYTHING! (Unless it's an ATM.) And even that, I have had problem with.

    It all boils down to job security. There’s absolutely none with automated responses. I went to Walmart the other day, and tried to go on one of those ‘self checkout lanes’. Oh what a disaster. I was behind this girl who was in front of me first. She put an item down on the tray.

    “Please place item down on the tray.”
    (The girl places the item AGAIN on the tray.)
    “I do not detect an item on the tray. Please place item down on the tray.”
    (She plops the item back down on the tray—a bit harder this time.)
    “I do not detect an item on the tray. Please place item down on the tray.”


    I can’t stand it. So I stood on a line that was a mile long with people who had items piled up to the ceiling. There was a human being at the cash register declining practically everyone’s credit card. You have to keep in mind—this was Walmart—not Macy’s.

    Anyway, AMEN to this post. What happened to the good ol’ days when you can actually speak to a live person?

    It’s ridiculous.

    Please make a note of it.

  13. Amy K, that EVOO kills me too. For those who don't know… Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but she refuses to say it. "And now I add a little E.V.O.O…." Torture. Someone has got to get her to quit that.

  14. Brian – Hahahaha, YES! I have seen that ad/commerical. It's hilarious!

    "Big boy"

    Hasn't that happen to us all?

  15. The E.V.O.O. is even worse than that. First she says "ee vee oh oh", which, quite frankly is harder to say than the words "extra virgin olive oil" (try it yourself) and then she says "that's a little EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL". EVERY SINGLE TIME. So to re-cap, her "shorthand" is difficult to pronounce, AND SHE DOES NOT USE IT IN PLACE OF, BUT RATHER IN ADDITION TO THE WORDS THEY'RE MEANT TO REPLACE. I just want to smack that ever present grin off her face. And she laughs (a lot) at her own "jokes" and…um, where's the tylenol…

  16. Rachel Ray is never going to quit the E.V.O.O. bit. In fact, she now has her OWN line of olive called….you guessed it…E.V.O.O.

    Kinda makes you want to throw up a little bit.

  17. Bobette, thank you for not saying, "I just threw up in my mouth." I HATE that expression. So overly used and not at all pithy.

  18. >You can cook Rachel Ray in that time.

    I don't think you could even get all of her brown in less than 45 minutes, but maybe she is smaller than I think.

  19. The best chefs really have 1 thing in common- nationality. They are all Italian (or from italian blood). From Giada DeLaurentis, to Mario Batali (absolutely love Babbo by the way), Michael Chiarello (Napa style), Lidia, the list goes on. Rachel Ray is annoying and couldn't hold a candle to Miss Giada. And let's not even debate looks!

  20. Rachel Ray's hand movements kill me – she's constantly moving – emphasizing every single word. Every. Single. Word.

    It drives me absolutely nuts – i can't even watch anymore – all i see are her hands flying around.

  21. Ciao Roma, I love those Italian Chefs, but I have to assert that Ina Garten (a lovely Jewish woman) is fantastic, as is Bobby Flay (the hot Irishman)! While we are on the subject, no Italian Chef is better than Lidia Bastianich. I would love to see her cook Rachel Ray in E.V.O.O. with those man hands of hers! :)

  22. I can't lie, I kinda love Rachael Ray for those 30 minute meals (my patience is limited when it comes to cooking as much as I love the end results)….but the EVOO kills me. As for "yummers", the girl needs a thesaurus so she can find something to replace that. She sounds like a kindergarten teacher!

    And I am totall on the anti-Duane Reade bandwagon. Every single person who works there is nasty and bitter. BLEGH!

  23. This whole post, the entire comments section…funniest stuff I've read all day. You all crack me up, and I love reading your posts daily, Stephanie! You've got a huge fan base here in Chicago! Take care, ALL OF YOU!

  24. While watching the people at Duane Reade, I often thought to myself – I honestly could not move that slowly if I was trying on purpose. Unless of course I'd been sedated. It's not just the attitude – it's the lack of alertness…the listless dragging of your items over to the cash register so they can scan it in? The hooded eyelids? The mumbling? Maybe they're all tranquilized. After moving away from NYC I've never been able to communicate the Duane Reade phenomenon accurately to my friends because they just accuse me of exaggerating when I act it out.

    As for Giada, pay close attention when she talks. She is constantly saying the phrase "I'm gonna" but she pronounces it "I'm unna". Aggravating. And she has gross hands with cigar fingers thicker than her waist. But I can't stop watching because I'm mesmerized by her planet sized head on that tiny little body.

    Rachel Ray keeps yakking on about her Italian heritage, but she (and her recipes) strike me as about Italian as Sbarro and the Olive Garden.

  25. I am also currently on hold while a "team leader" is wrangled up to "help me resolve this". I asked the last woman if she's aware of anyone at her company ever doing anything right — or have they just let go of that expectation for themselves. WHY, WHY do they end every one of these calls with "Is there anything else I can help you with today, Maam?" Well, what I originally called you about would be a great start

  26. This will probably get me banned…but I like Rachel Ray. Her phrases are annoying as all hell, but her cooking is easy to follow and I even picked up her new magazine ~very good layout and the recipes are down to earth yet still classy~ but I really like her now b/c she has went ahead and spent some of that money on a makeover. She has highlights, decent makeup, and most importantly some clothes that don't look like she picked them up at Dress Barn or Fashion Bug….What can I say I'm a sucker for a cute outfit. All she has to do now is get a speech coach and my girl will be set!!!!!
    PS. She is on Oprah today telling the best cheap food in NYC. And yes she is looking cute in her marc jacobs sweater!!

  27. Ping! You just hit my "hot" button, as in pet peeve. I am all over the "0" button the minute I hear the pre-recorded, waste my time voice recordings. I am currently dealing with medical claim forms for my husband. AGGGGHHHH! I keep saying over and over again, while on hold, "just shoot me." But then, if someone did shoot me, and they missed a major artery, I would have to go to the hospital, and then deal with more claim forms and, of course, more recordings. Life…can't live with it sometimes and definitely can't live without it. :)


  28. what is it with the italian cooks….the sausage fingers freak me out: mario, lidia. it's creepy. i love lidia but she needs some help in the hair arena. you'd think her huge rack would make up for the baldness, but really, it's just a distraction.

    by the way, stephanie—you are SO loved. keep up the good work!

  29. Giada is a great cook, but she is so damned condescending to the people she has on every now and then to help cook — and they're almost always family members or close friends. "Do you know how to slice garlic? Oh, don't go so crazy on that pecorino romano! Oh, that's a cute suggestion, but let's do it my way." She's there giving advice to her ancient Italian born-and-bred aunt, who looked like she wanted to tie Giada up and throw her in the roasting pan instead of the rack of lamb. And seriously, folks, what's with the softcore porn music playing during her show? She's hot, but come on.

    Also, if you don't like Rachael Ray, try giving her recipes on a chance; I bet you'd change your mind once you tried some of them. And I agree with the Bobby Flay/Ina Garten love. But let's not kid ourselves: Alton Brown is by the far the best host on the Food Network!

  30. The comment thread on this post is hilarious. Rachael Ray annoys me to no end. The worst was when I found out they were giving her a talk show. I can't even stand to listen to this chick's voice long enough to get a recipe, let alone have to withstand her interviewing someone!

  31. Rachel – you totally nailed it re: Giada's show resembling softcore porn. The first time I saw her show, I had to check the channel because I thought I was on HBO, not the Food Network. The guy I was dating at the time was a chef and had never seen her show, so I got him to watch it and his immediate response was, "This is food porn."

  32. But its gotta be better than watching that whale Ina Garten walk around smiling and pretending that her husband actually could give a damn about her.

  33. >I don't think you could even get all of her brown in less than 45 minutes, but maybe she is smaller than I think.

    Scott, add a little EVOO. She'll cook in no time.

    From the Italian/Jewish sector (hot cooking but with no guarantee of sex after antipasti)…

  34. Yes, isn't it fun that we can cuss those Indian call center guy or girl even if they have 8% of the call-center business including all countries included. I am sure it is his/her fault that he/she applied for that job that got them out of dire poverty. Yes! we in america have the right to cuss them hard and get our frustrations away. How dare they work hard in their youth under chimney lights and mosquitoes bites to learn english and match and god knows what just to feed some extra mouth which includes grandparents and a hungry child. After all his/her getting job meant a job lost here, so we will curse you now and not the companies who outsource it. So what that you get the Ma'am and Sir legacy from britain, drop it here. Even though most have us have trouble understanding staunch British accent but we will adore it and loathe yours because you are poor and you took a job away…it was your fault and not the industries.

    Come on fellows grow up, is this what we are doing ?

    And this comment will never get published in comment section as Ms. Klein rarely publishes mine.

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